Changes to RBA Act will further entrench the depoliticisation of economic policy and reduce democratic accountability
Today, I consider the latest development in the entrenchment of neoliberalism in the Australian policy…
Today is Wednesday and we mourn the death of Charlie Watts. But while we are doing that, here are some snippets on C18th philosophy and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), the ideological poverty of German politics, vaccines, and then some Charlie.
A reader (thanks Justin) sent me an interesting tract that he had come across in his own reading.
For some unknown (now) reason, I skipped that work after I had read the 1785 work – Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals – during my days of catching up learning about the great moral philosophers.
The full text is available – HERE.
My source wrote:
As to page numbers, the standardized page numbers from the standard German edition of Kant’s work, Kant’s Gesammelte Schriften, are by volume and page. The standardized page number for the above passage is 6:288. The translation I quoted is from the Practical Philosophy volume of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. The page numbers for the Cambridge Edition are pp. 435-436. In this section of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant also refers and quotes Smith’s labor theory of value. The Metaphysics of Morals was published in 1797.
The German Text, paragraphs 14-27 (Source)
Wie ist es aber möglich, daß das, was anfänglich Waare war, endlich Geld ward? Wenn ein großer und machthabender Verthuer einer Materie, die er anfangs bloß zum Schmuck und Glanz seiner Diener (des Hofes) brauchte (z. B. Gold, Silber, Kupfer, oder eine Art schöner Muschelschalen, Kauris, oder auch wie in Kongo eine Art Matten, Makuten genannt, oder wie am Senegal Eisenstangen und auf der Guineaküste selbst Negersklaven), d. i. wenn ein Landesherr die Abgaben von seinen Unterthanen in dieser Materie (als Waare) einfordert und die, deren Fleiß in Anschaffung derselben dadurch bewegt werden soll, mit eben denselben nach Verordnungen des Verkehrs unter und mit ihnen überhaupt (auf einem Markt oder einer Börse) wieder lohnt. – Dadurch allein hat (meinem Bedünken nach) eine Waare ein gesetzliches Mittel des Verkehrs des Fleißes der Unterthanen unter einander und hiemit auch des Staatsreichthums, d.i. Geld, werden können.
And the translated English text is:
But how is it possible that what were at first only goods finally became money? This would happen if a powerful, opulent ruler who at first used a material for the adornment and splendor of his attendants (his court) came to levy taxes on his subjects in this material (as goods) (e.g., gold, silver, copper, or a kind of beautiful seashell, cowries; or as in the Congo a kind of matting called makutes, in Senegal iron ingots, or on the Cost of Guinea even black slaves), and in turn paid with this same material those his demand moved to industry in procuring it, in accordance with exchange regulations with them and among them (on a market or exchange). – In this way only (so it seems to me) could a certain merchandise have become a lawful means of exchange of the industry of subjects with one another, and thereby also become the wealth of the nation, that is, money.
MMT stands on the shoulders of giants.
Immanuel Kant was certainly that.
The latest electoral polls are showing that the September 26, 2021, German Parliamentary elections are getting very close, with the SPD at 22 per cent (and shooting up) and CDU/CSU at 23 per cent (and diving) (Source).
The Poll of Polls shows that the ruling CDU/CSU has come off a steady support base of around 36 per cent to drop to its new low since February 2021.
Conversely, the SPD has surged from a relative stable base of 15-17 per cent to its new high since late July 2021.
The current reports covering the upcoming German election in September are suggesting that the awful SPD leader Olaf Sholz could become Chancellor.
I suspect the CDU/CSU will still win though.
Which means there will not be much change if this Tweet from the CDU, put out this Tweet last week (August 21, 2021), is anything to go by.
So “Oldie but Goldie” is what?
Translated it says:
Yes, we confess, we have a little fetish: Solid finances without new debts! That is intergenerational justice in practice! And it is the best prerequisite for investing in the future. We are concerned with both. And our budget shows: Both are possible!
Die Schwarze Null for all those who thought the fiscal debate in Europe had transcended the moronic Stability and Growth Pact fiscal traps.
Oldie and Mouldy!
1. Die schwarze Null continues to haunt Europe (May 21, 2018).
2. Dr Die Schwarze Null still not thinking beyond more austerity (April 19, 2021).
This updates my thoughts on the disastrous vaccination roll-out in Australia, which has been created by the incompetence of the federal government (who tried to ‘save’ money and didn’t order enough), the conflicting messaging from our health authorities, and the incompetence of the NSW conservative state government who claimed they were the champions of freedom and didn’t need lockdowns to control the Delta variant.
Today, NSW recorded the record number of cases, deaths are rising and more regions are being impacted.
Meanwhile state borders against NSW are firmly shut (and I am stuck in Melbourne unable to get back to Newcastle easily).
I often compare Australia as a federation to the dysfunctional Eurozone and claim that there is unity in our federation that makes it work.
I am now in the process of changing my view on that given that Australia has almost ceased to exist in this pandemic and by dint of the Constitutional responsibilities the States and Territories are at the forefront of the health situation (they run the hospitals and health legislation mainly), while the Commonwealth (federal government) really had only two responsibilities – external quarantine and vaccine purchases and distribution.
The federal government has severely botched both of its responsibilities which is why we keep getting infections escaping quarantine and there is a severe shortage of vaccines.
But Australia has become a collection of separate states and territories and the ideologies within each boundary has to some extent determined how the pandemic has been handled.
By far the majority are zero Covid states and have mostly achieved that with occasional outbreaks being controlled by short, sharp lockdowns.
Victoria, also desires a zero situation, but due to quarantine failures last year, endured a very nasty second wave, which was controlled, ultimately, by a harsh, 110-day lockdown.
NSW has been lucky until now.
But another quarantine breach triggered a Delta outbreak and the conservative government there decided they didn’t need any significant restrictions.
The outbreak is now escalating and damaging the national economy because the other states have isolated NSW.
Now the mantra from these neoliberal idiots is that we have to vaccination our way out of the problem because they have failed to bring case numbers down.
NSW has been forced to impose restrictions now but they are somewhat lax and mostly concentrated (the harshest) on poorer, low-paid communities.
But we are being berated every day by the politicians to get vaccinated so we can be free when we get to 70 or 80 per cent of adult population, which is only about 55 per cent once you add in the children under 16.
And it is the children that are now getting infected by the Delta variant.
The problem is that without sufficient supply, the federal government decided to define who could get AZ (in greater supply) and who could get Pfizer (hardly any available relatively).
Then the medical authorities that sanction the safety of the vaccines determined that AZ was risky for under 60s and so authorised Pfizer for that group.
But there is not enough to go around.
The federal government then decided that it would lose the next federal election (within the next 8 months or so) if the vaccination rates stayed low and, without consultation, told us all that anyone could take AZ even though the medical authorities had declared it undesirable for certain age groups.
The doctors then rebelled and on June 28, 2021, the Australian government bowed to pressure from the medical professionals and announced it would fully indemnify doctors from any damages claims arising from the vaccine program.
This was in the context of the Government going against the advice of the medical authorities.
They didn’t offer any of the citizens are similar indemnity against damage.
Meanwhile, there are growing (but small) number of cases every week of people dying from the side effects of AZ, or, at least, becoming very ill from thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS.
The medical authorities then reneged as the NSW crisis exploded and decided that people below 60 could have AZ if their doctor was okay with it.
The messaging has been terrible.
And, as a result, a significant number of people are not prepared to take AZ and are waiting for the next major shipment of Pfizer, which apparently is due later this year.
Meanwhile, the supplies of Pfizer has been reallocated to 16-39 year olds because the NSW Wave 3 is infecting kids in great numbers and the government wants to restore ‘freedom’ quickly.
It is a major mess.
Meanwhile, the evidence is that all the confusion is resulting in people baulking at AZ and also not turning up for bookings and/or not making bookings.
Further, anecdotal evidence is that because of all the mess, vials of Pfizer are not fully used on some days which means they go to waste, despite a massive demand for the injection.
And to make matters worse, the 60 year old plus group are even denied a choice and are forced to take AZ or nothing and the evidence is that 27 per cent of the above 55s are refusing that unfair choice, despite being proclaimed by the medical authorities to be the group that is among the most vulnerable to get serious and fatal illness if they catch Covid.
Taken together, the neoliberals are pushing the politicians into a position to ‘open up’ the society in a situation where the population is significantly unvaccinated and has not had any serious viral load over the last 18 months.
But the basic point is that until they give the 60 plus group a choice – that group is now the only one without a choice – the nation cannot get close to the 80 per cent threshold they are defining as the ‘freedom’ day.
The best thing to do, given that appointments are not filled each day and vaccine is going to waste is to just open the queue to everyone with the assumption that you can nominate your preferred vaccine when the appointment is made.
The queue will be long – millions.
But at least the Federal government will then know how much Pfizer they have to get and when the 80 per cent mark will be achieved.
They will also know how many anti-vaxxers there are – that is uncertain.
And on a daily basis, all available slots would be filled and no vaccine would go to waste.
The other point is that the health officials are keen to tell us that the ‘best vaccine is the one that is available’ as a means of trying to force us to take AZ, given there is grossly insufficient supply of Pfizer available.
It is clear that the vast majority of Australians prefer Pfizer.
Just today, they have made it available to 16-39 years and the take up of appointments has increased quickly whereas that cohort was not convinced they should take AZ.
But the authorities keep quoting the average deaths from AZ, which are small.
The problem is, as all statisticians know, no-one is the average.
This US CDC article (July 2, 2014) – Nobody is average but what to do about it? The challenge of individualized disease prevention based on genomics – is interesting.
The authorities can quote the low average AZ clotting deaths and illness for all they like, but those numbers are meaningless for any one individual, who might be in the ‘death’ cohort.
The authorities don’t know the individual risk.
So for some, they are unknowingly being given a lethal injection.
Several are in that category in Australia.
And it is that reality that has created the 27 per cent of over 55s who are not anti-vaxxers but who don’t want to see if the AZ injection is lethal or benign.
Here are some interesting numbers.
All the talk in Australia has been about so-called ‘vaccine hesistancy’ as opposed to ‘anti-vaxxer’.
The two cohorts are clearly different.
I am personally, hesitant, because I am not being given a choice, whereas as I am very strongly pro vaccine.
The Report from Imperial College London – COVID-19 Global Behavioursand AttitudesThe Year in Review – which covers the period April 2020-April 2021, is interesting and covers survey evidence from “29 countries, areas and territories”.
The survey questions covered a number of areas relevant to the public health response to Covid-19 including reactions to lockdowns, trust in government, vaccine sentiment and more.
One section focused on “How has willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine changed?”
The Report found that:
Compared to November 2020, willingness to get the vaccine has increased in all countries surveyed except Australia.
“To what extent do you agree or disagree that if a COVID-19 vaccine were made available to you this week, you would definitely get it?”
1. For Australia, 55 per cent ‘Strongly Agree’ or ‘Agree’ as at November 2020.
2. By April 2021, the number had dropped to 51 per cent.
3. 24 per cent ‘Disagree’ or ‘Strongly Disagree’ as at November 2020.
4. By April 2021, the number had increased to 27 per cent.
“To what extent do you agree or disagree that you are worried about potential side-effects of a COVID-19 vaccine?”
1. For Australia, 47 per cent ‘Strongly Agree’ or ‘Agree’ as at November 2020.
2. By April 2021, the number had dropped to 44 per cent.
3. 26 per cent ‘Disagree’ or ‘Strongly Disagree’ as at November 2020.
4. By April 2021, the number had increased to 32 per cent.
“To what extent do you agree or disagree that if you do not get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available, you will regret it?”
1. For Australia, 51 per cent ‘Strongly Agree’ or ‘Agree’ as at November 2020.
2. By April 2021, the number had dropped to 47 per cent.
3. 23 per cent ‘Disagree’ or ‘Strongly Disagree’ as at November 2020.
4. By April 2021, the number had increased to 26 per cent.
“How much do you trust COVID-19 vaccines?”
1. For Australia, 67 per cent ‘Very much’ or ‘Moderately’ as at November 2020.
2. By April 2021, the number had dropped to 66 per cent.
3. 33 per cent ‘A little’ or ‘Not at All’ as at November 2020.
4. By April 2021, the number had increased to 34 per cent.
The point being that while it is difficult to know how many Australians are strictly anti-vaccination as opposed to waiting for a choice, it is likely the former category is substantial.
Reset Australia – which is part of a global effort to “counter digital threats to democracy”, published a report (May 17, 2021) – Anti-vaccination & vaccine hesitant narratives intensify in Australian Facebook Groups – which found that the “national pro-vaccine campaigns are being undermined by online disinformation and misinformation proliferating in Facebook groups.”
They examined “13 Public Facebook Groups between January 2020 – March 2021” in Australia, and, found that:
As of March 2021, these groups had a combined total of over 115,000 members, generating over 2.66 million interactions throughout the period of analysis. During the research period, subscription to these groups grew by 280%.
These groups that have been aided and abetted by conservative elected politicians in Australia are at the extreme end of the resistance.
Reset said the groups were the “tip of the iceberg” given they had only covered a small amount of the available public evidence of anti-vaxxer views.
Other surveys suggest the strict anti-vaxxer cohort is around 11 per cent (Source), which would mean that that resistance “are not a roadblock to getting back to normal”.
But the same research found that there were “27 per cent of Australians … who said they would get vaccinated, but not straight away.”
Much of that group reflects the fact that the denial of choice between AZ and Pfizer and the inconsistent and variable warnings about the dangers of AZ has created the ‘wait’ strategy.
In June 2021, around 50 per cent of the over 55 year old cohort “were willing to get vaccinated, but had not been yet, were waiting for Pfizer to become available.”
The daily vaccination data is available at – Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
The data is broken down in a number of ways and makes interesting reading.
I did some calculations based on this table, which captures the situation on August 23, 2021 in Australia.
We can assume that those who have already taken the first dose are not anti-vaxxers.
You can see that in the above 70 years cohort, they are already meeting the 80 per cent threshold or more.
So it reasonable to assume that the 27 per cent of those who are waiting are in the 55-69 years group, which has had AZ available to them for months and have low relative take up rates
The younger groups have low rates too but have only recently been allowed to access the vaccines.
In June 2021, around 50 per cent of the over 55 year old cohort “were willing to get vaccinated, but had not been yet, were waiting for Pfizer to become available.”
I don’t think the daily berating that the politicians give us to stop waiting will work.
And there is no way that the nation can get to the 80 per cent threshold while that older group of Australians are denied a choice.
It is simple arithmetic.
Which means that the delays in getting to the 80 per cent threshold come back to the poor decisions made by the Australian government in mid-2020, when they tried to ‘save’ money (that they have in infinite supply) and failed to purchase enough Pfizer stocks.
That shortage of supply has worsened because the medical bodies have authorised only Pfizer for the under 60 year olds, even though they have hedged now and said it is up to the individual to take the risk on AZ if they choose.
But the simple and obvious point is that the government must get more Pfizer before we will go beyond these damaging lockdowns.
Then that 27 per cent of older Australians will be falling over themselves to get in the queue to be vaccinated.
Charlie Watts – died yesterday.
This obituary (August 24, 2021) – Charlie Watts, Rolling Stones Drummer, Dies at 80 – is a good account of his contribution.
I last saw the Rolling Stones live on November 15, 2014 at the Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley (outside of Newcastle).
Around 18,000 other people joined me and I think all left with the same impression – fabulous show.
I watched Charlie Watts the most during the night because he held the band together.
His timing was really constant and tight, unlike a lot of drummers who speed up during a number as the intensity increases.
I was mesmerised by his playing – a really soft, almost jazz touch on the skins (playing R&B), with a really strong bass drum beat.
I though this video of the Stones from the German (Bremen) – Beat-Club – program was interesting because it focuses, somewhat on the drumming, given that Mick Jagger is largely absent.
Every great band and musician of the time appeared on the Beat-Club.
This recording was done in 1972 in Montreaux.
The sound isn’t great and the guitar players look bored (particularly Mick Taylor) but you get a real sense of the touch of the drummer and the way he sets the bottom end up with Bill Wyman.
No more Charlie.
If you like jazz then some of his Quintet and Big Band albums are excellent. I have several of those.
Here is a sample, which features the long-time, Rolling Stones backing vocalist – Bernard Fowler – singing the George and Ira Gershwin – I’ve Got a Crush on You – which is off the 1997 album Long Ago and Far Away.
That album is fabulous and features the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
The – Full Album – features Nicky Hopkins on piano, Ry Cooder, guitar, Mick Jagger, vocals, harp, Bill Wyman, bass and Charlie Watts.
The old R&B song – It Hurts Me Too – is a particular standout from a host of great numbers.
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2021 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.